JG - Fort Augusta home to many girls
Fort Augusta home to many girls
published: Sunday September 23, 2007
Mark Titus, Freelance Writer
Dr. Raymoth Notice. - File
There has been a dramatic decline in the adult population at the Fort Augusta correctional facility in Portmore, St. Catherine, but concern is being raised about the rise in the number of girls being held on remand.
"Over the last six years, the adult population at Fort Augusta has declined from 250 to 136. Last year, it was at 177," Major Richard Reese, Commissioner of Corrections, discloses.
"We presently have some 47 juveniles at the facility temporarily. We had to find a suitable place to house them when they were remanded, so after some consultation with the courts, we placed them here, pending the opening of Montpelier (Juvenile Remand Centre)," he adds.
According to Maj. Reese, the juveniles are placed in separate dormitories from the adult offenders, with separate security personnel posted.
Information technology and other educational programmes are offered to the juvenile offenders, while the adult offenders are taught cosmetology, information technology, sewing and embroidery. Some inmates also participate in CXC or remedial classes.
"We also sought and got the approval to hire case managers for our correctional centres," adds Reese. "These persons are responsible to assess the child and develop a case-management plan, and ensure that the plans are carried out."
This approach will replace the practice of a probation officer visiting the institution to have sessions with the child. Instead, Reese says, the case officer will have constant dialogue with the individual from the beginning of the period of incarceration that will allow him or her to make an accurate assessment.
critical in broader society
Reese says this will complement the activities of chaplains and other external entities which conduct counselling sessions in correctional centres.
Former prison psychiatrist, Dr. Raymoth Notice, while welcoming the introduction of the case managers in correctional facilities, argues that psychiatrists and social workers are critical in the broader society to reach young people in crisis.
"There has been an array of behavioural disorders that have developed among our young ones," he states. "Poor family upbringing and broken homes have led to a lot of these girls fending for themselves. Some are working in go-go clubs and getting involved in prostitution, among other illegal activities," Dr. Notice adds.
"In the long term, we need to get our psychiatrists to look into the destructive behavioural patterns of some of these individuals," recommends Notice.